What does it mean to think like a lawyer? And what does thinking like a lawyer do to your brain? How does law school and the practice of law change you physiologically, altering that organ you carry around in your head? How is a lawyer's brain different from the brain of a person who has not experienced legal training and practice? And how does that difference affect your relationships with those people in your professional and personal life with brains different from a lawyer's?
While there are many processes that occur in the brain when practicing law, the use of language is one that strongly affects and molds the lawyer's brain. James Boyd White in his thought-provoking book The Legal Imagination looks at the relationship between the lawyer's language and the lawyer's mind.
Once it is recognized that lawyers do see things differently from other people, that their minds work differently - that they themselves are different - it becomes important to ask what it means to become a lawyer oneself. Is being a lawyer something you can put on and take off like a suit of clothes, or does it somehow change you beyond repair?
As a part of looking at that relationship, he discusses what is said about an event and what is not.
The description of an event can go on forever and still be incomplete. ... The new lawyer sees this as soon as he finds he must tell a real story and discovers that it can never be done, that there is always more to say ... .
White says that law school teaches a person what to cut out of a story:
the line that separates the expressed from the unexpressed, what can be said from what cannot.
Discussing the lawyer's distinct use and experience of language, White asks if the "peculiarities we observe" are due to the
existence of a discrete professional language with its own vocabulary and syntax
habits of mind and ways of working that find expression in whatever verbal language the lawyer uses, even when he is talking, say, to his client or to a jury in ordinary English.
White then asks: